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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Final Blog Post For 2013

It's 192 minutes to the new year at the exact time I started this blog post (I had to count several times using my calculator app just to make sure 'cause my mathematics sucks).

Have you managed to cross off all your resolutions for 2013 by now? If you did, you really ought to give yourself a hearty and encourging pat on the back. Congratulations :)

For me, I didn't manage to cross off every of my resolutions since I still owe myself several backlogged blog entries for several of my overseas trips. I've managed to finish all other blog entries though. Man, travel blogs are fun but they eat up the most time but that's only because to me, if I go on an overseas trip and focus only on the shopping, then I'll consider it a wasted half-assed trip.

It's a big world out there with a lot more to discover than just what's selling in the shops and boutiques - cultures, living conditions, way of life, taboos, societal mentalities of foreign lands, histories and such, among other discoveries, are learning opportunities for broadening your horizon that shouldn't be neglected if you have the chance to come face-to-face with them.

Compare the differences between yours and theirs and that's when the magic usually happens. If there is a Third Eye for traveling adventures, that's how you open it, me think.

Since you took the trouble to fly over there, you might as well breathe the experiences all in beyond the shopping. Detailing such things though, can take lots of time but I certainly think they are well worth it even if you end up not being fast enough in compiling them and have to watch them spill over into the next following year where you backlog them back into the previous year or even years before. I'll have to do that and I'll have to hustle.

Anyway, don't beat yourself up if you've tried and still see unaccomplished resolutions in your to-do list for 2013, for a new year is not just a new beginning, it's a new opportunity too. As long as you still have breath in you, you can still write and you can still do. And you can still accomplish.

Just keep moving and try not to be so damned slow like yours truly, ugh.

Happy New Year and Happy 2014, world.

-De Lion Speaks

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Stupid Reminder That Isn't Completely Stupidly Unimportant. Whatever, I Don't Know How To Title This One.

They say there is no cure for stupidity. But if you manage to drag everyone around you down to the same level of stupidity, then stupidity becomes the standard norm and accepted norm and accepted standards require no cure.

This, my friends, is a stupid post.

Whatever, 2014 is only a hair's breadth away, so I hope everyone has checked off all your resolutions for 2013 by now already. Better go Speedo Deedo and get cracking now if your list is having any leftovers.

Time - If you don't become friends with it, it becomes your worst enemy after yourself. Not an easy feat to accomplish, you need to give it time. Oh wait.

-De Lion Speaks

Friday, December 20, 2013

'Tis The Season To Remember The Human Touch

Since young, my dear sister has been telling me that talking to me sometimes gives her headaches. The point is; when it comes to family, there should always be room for being free and silly. The family that laughs together enjoys being together. Paracetamol be damned.

Get off the computer, get off your smartphone and tablet for awhile and go give your family and loved ones a big hug and tickles, Christmas is coming afterall. 'Tis the season for strengthening bonds and spreading good cheer and goodwill - not just digitally over bits & bytes.

Taking occasional breaks from things like social media and meeting up with and touching people for real in real life will do us all a lot of good and ground us back to the human factor.

The world is still a wonderfully big place, don't limit your mind and vision to just the size of a screen, for good things around you do exist and they shouldn't be neglected.

Happy Holidays, fellow humans.

-De Lion Speaks

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Between The Galaxy Note's Multi-Windows and Pen Window

I'm the sort who can't sit still while listening to live streaming radio - when songs I don't find nice get played or when DJs turn bimbotic, I'll cruise around the different stations till I can settle at something I like (preferably Hard Rock, Metal, Blues or Jazz).

Along with things like messaging apps which you need to access frequently but which you can just momentarily forget about and leave in the background until the next message comes in while you continue working on your main project, can't-sit-still streaming radio works better in Pen Window as compared to Multi-Windows.

That's because Pen Window allows your main project to remain in full-screen mode when you don't need your secondary stuff to be visible and sharing screen space all the time. Multi-Windows, on the other hand, works best for cross-app reference work. They both have their places.

Best thing is, you can activate both Multi-Windows and multiple Pen Windows together if you need powered-up combos like in Street Fighter. So between the Galaxy Note's Multi-Windows and Pen Window is a mobile multi-tasker's dream come true.

Oh, you might wanna root your Note device so that you can hack your Pen Window to allow any app you want to be used by it, since the meagre default 8 pre-determined apps ought to make any serious multi-tasker go 'Tsk'. The same 'Tsk' factor can also be said for unrooted and unhacked Multi-Windows.

Come on Samsung,​ be a bigger hero and port Pen Window over to the Galaxy Note 8.0 already. 감사합니다.

-De Lion Speaks 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Taking Matters Into My Own Hands For My Galaxy Note 8.0

I've been doing.. things to my Galaxy Note '2.5' lately and it's my Galaxy Note 8.0's turn:

The 4.2.2 update for the GT-N5110 Galaxy Note 8 has been out for months already but Samsung didn't see it fit to roll the update out to my set yet (running on the Turkish firmware). Did I mention it's been months? Those rocking with the GT-N5100 version had their updates even earlier.

I actually won't mind it if I have to wait for a month or so for updates to reach my devices once they've been officially launched but I won't wait on my hand and foot for OEMs to throw their scraps my way for this long, so yesterday, I took the liberty of taking matters into my own hands and flashed the latest 4.2.2 UK firmware on my tablet using Odin and followed by a re-root.

I've just finished setting my baby up and of course, killed and got rid of all the bloat I don't need and never use and installed all the mods I need. The mod which allows you to put any app you want in the Multi-Window function is especially a definite must for the Note devices. 4.2.2 brings subtle changes and improvements but they are there; The ability to use Lockscreen widgets is a convenient thing and the OS does seem zippier, for example. I love this tablet to bits.

Might as well, running on the UK's firmware might just help improve my English. Hail to the Queen and all that.

The last paragraph above is of course just a joke.

-De Lion Speaks

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Transforming My Galaxy Note 2 Into A 'Nexus' Phone

Previously, I transformed my Galaxy Note 2 into a Galaxy Note '2.5'. Three days ago, I transformed it into a 'Nexus':

At the rate that I'm going, I'll probably experience an identity crisis soon. Loving it ♡

My Nexu.. er, I mean my Note 2 now has the look, interface and functionalities of almost pure Android of the Nexus - to the extent that I'm actually feeling I'm using a miniature version of my Nexus 7. I said 'almost pure Android' because the ROM I'm using to achieve this has pumped binary steroids into the OS (running on Android 4.3.1), bringing more functionalities to what was supposed to be 'pure'.

Speaking of the ROM, it's Beanstalk ROM. If you are running out of time and prefer everything condensed in one page, I've embedded the video on the Beanstalk ROM here for your convenience (do read the linked Max's page first if you are interested in trying out the ROM for yourself though):

You know what? The ROM comes just shy of 190mb compared to TouchWiz-based ROMs which usually come in 1gb plus sizes, so you can imagine how clean and streamlined Beanstalk is (or any other AOSP ROMs, for that matter).

You may be wondering why I didn't flash Android KitKat 4.4 instead, which is the latest Android version.

Well, the answer is that the ROM running on 4.4 for the International GT-N7100 Note 2, which is Omni ROM, has everything 4.4 working so far except for the camera. As you can imagine, not being able to use the camera is a big no-no for me (or anyone else for that matter, my turn to imagine).

Well, KitKat 4.4 has just been released and is like freshly made chocolate just taken straight out from the oven, so it will be only a matter of time before the good devs at XDA iron out the kinks. When that happens, I'll be able to find out how the chocolate tastes like on my Note.

By the way, I'm not even sure if chocolate is actually made using the oven but it has to be. Well, whatever.

Not that a Nexus phone's battery is atrocious but if it had the battery life of the Note 2, I'm sure Nexus phone owners would be VERY pleased.

Equation Time:

Let X = Pure Android is a super clean OS, which translates to efficient battery life by right.

Let Y = The fantastic big 3100mAH battery of the Note 2.

Let Z = The root Greenify app, which auto whips wakelock-happy apps into submission. Happy battery.

X + Y + Z = An entire day's and then some, 'Nexus' experience.

My Note running on TouchWiz beneath the surface (I use other launchers) can last me an entire day but I'll be toggling to this ROM if I have to go somewhere for a couple of days where I can't access a charger easily.

Kinda like having the best of both worlds.

Besides, I still get to use my external micro SD card (Nexus devices no longer come with micro SD slots) and my Note's camera, which is better than the Nexus's.

So, did I encounter any hiccups or bugs on this ROM? Yeah, just one: It didn't replace the 'Samsung' logo at the top and front of my phone. Pardon me for getting nonsensical there but what I'm actually trying to say is that this ROM works perfect so far and gives you the Nexus experience in terms of functionalities, interface and looks, even right down to the keyboard and the Nexus ringtones. It does all these extremely well, in fact, which was why I mentioned it felt exactly like using a miniature version of my 7 inch Nexus 7 with a 5.5 inch display.

Thing is, because Beanstalk is an AOSP ROM and not a TouchWiz-based ROM, you will lose the S Pen features and functionalities (along with the usual Samsung 'smart' features) - which means your S Pen will be stripped of its awesome powers and get rendered to just the role of a normal capacitive stylus: it's like getting demoted from a Super Star to a Calefare, even though there are alternative apps which sorta mimick the S Pen functionalities.

But restoring Nandroid backups and toggling between different ROMs via Recovery (I don't use ROM Manager) takes only a few minutes if you have to. You don't even need to be tethered to a computer to restore a backup or to switch ROMs - It's an Anytime Anywhere situation and that's awesome.

So yeah, you can have the Nexus experience without having to buy a Nexus device if you are rooted. I've mentioned it before but I'll mention it again: Being a tinkerer can many time$ $ave you a lot of mooIah.

-De Lion Speaks

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Transforming My Galaxy Note 2 Into A Galaxy Note '2.5'

The photo above shows just 2 of the few new features I have on my smartphone now. 2 points regarding the photo:

  1. The phone you see there is my Galaxy Note 2.

  2. It now has Air Command and My Magazine which are features of the Galaxy Note 3.

So what I'm trying to say here is that my Note 2 now has the goodies of the Note 3 running on it.

On the 26th of October, I flashed Tigra ROM on my Note 2 - one of the few available ROMs which modified the leaked 4.3 firmware for the Note 2 (and the 4.3 version contains the non-hardware dependent features of the Galaxy Note 3 meant to be ported over to the Note 2). So that's the gist of it.

Samsung has not yet released an official finalised 4.3 firmware for the Note 2 yet, so this one is a beta. Being a ROM based on a firmware in beta stage, I didn't expect Tigra ROM to be perfect when I flashed it, so I approached it with an experimental mindset. I read the user reviews for the ROM first before deciding to download it, of course.

I've made a Nandroid backup before diving in anyway, so as long as the ROM doesn't make my phone explode or do weird things like warping my time and space, there is practically no risk involved for me and I can revert things to exactly how they were before I flashed the ROM.

Tigra was either in its 2.3 or 2.4 version (can't remember exactly which one now) when I first flashed it and everything was working well except that I would experience crashes and forced closes on the FlashBarService (the process which governs the Note 2's Multi-Windows) sometimes when I tried to summon the Pen Window while the Multi-Window was active. That's a no-no for me, since I've already devised ways of maximising both features for better productivity and convenience when it comes to multitasking and I can't have any or both of them crashing on me with that sort of frequency.

So what I did around 6 days ago was to try out Dr Ketan's ROM instead but unfortunately, upon further usage, I discovered it was susceptible to the same FlashBarService crashes on an even much more frequent basis, which made the situation worse for me.

Disclaimer: Look, I'm not trying to diss any of the XDA developers' works here, my crashes were probably due to user errors on my own part and I have the highest respect for the devs. You can keep your stones if you happen to have them out and aimed at me.
The Note 3's keyboard
So a couple of days later after flashing Dr Ketan's ROM, I saw there was an update to Tigra ROM (version 3 at the time of this blog post) and decided to try it out.

I don't think I've mentioned yet how I think the Note 3's keyboard is awesome. I simply love its extra handwriting-to-text functionalities for the S Pen but alas, the developer decided to take away the Note 3's keyboard on version 3 and has replaced it with the Note 2's keyboard because the Note 3's couldn't work properly on version 3. However, the developer was kind enough to provide a flashable zip of the Note 3's keyboard if you are adventurous and experimental enough to try it.

So I downloaded version 3 of Tigra ROM and the provided Note 2's keyboard on it suddenly failed to recognise my S Pen's input in handwriting-to-text mode. Yes, I'm one of those backward weirdos that still love the feel of a pen in my hand. So I got pissed and downloaded the flashable Note 3 keyboard and just like the developer warned, I experienced error messages and forced closes. However..

So I did what the post above suggested and lo and behold, the Note 3's keyboard started working beautifully without a hitch until this very day \o/

Since then, I've been rocking with version 3 of Tigra ROM and you know what? I've only had like 2 FlashBarService crashes which a restart of the Multi-Window fixed, no biggie (and I did conduct a heck lot of torture tests on it). Compared to the too numerous numbers of FlashBarService crashes before, only 2 in the length of a week or so of heavy usage and torture tests is nothing and I didn't encounter any other hiccups.

This made me wonder what the developer did to make FlashBarService a heck lot more stable now and if I do recall correctly, the previous version came with all apps pre-enabled for the Multi-Windows but in the latest version, I noticed that this wasn't quite the case.

More accurately speaking, if you install apps which have been programmed to work with the Multi-Windows, they will automatically go into the Multi-Windows as intended, whereas for apps which don't, you have to pre-select them with Wanam Xposed (an Xposed Module which comes with the ROM) before they can become selectable for the Multi-Windows.

Maybe this is the reason why FlashBarService is working a lot more stable now.

Being able to control which app can become useable for the Multi-Windows individually is a lot more neater than just dumping everything into its selection panel like in the previous versions anyway, so I very much prefer the current method.

Despite my previous thoughts regarding the Pen Window (yes, the Pen Window gets ported over to the Note 2 too on 4.3), which I've mentioned how having to draw a box first before you can summon the function seems like a redundant step, I found out while playing with it that if you can't be arsed to draw a nice box, just scribbling a rough and quick oval or circle in a 'I don't give a flying fuck about redundant boxes' way works just as well.

Pen Window can't be summoned if you draw your box or circle too overly small though, like say, any size smaller than a bottle cap, since it has its minimum size. The same rule applies on the Note 3. Just like before though, I still think having to draw a box or a quick and fast circle to be a redundant step still, even though a quick and dirty circle or oval takes only like half a second to draw.

Actually, I've discovered for myself that even a half-assed semi-circle or semi-oval, as opposed to a complete one, will be enough to launch the Pen Window.

Anyway, the method mentioned above to get Pen Window running turned out to be not as bad and faster than I thought, despite the seemingly redundant step. Thing is, I actually find Pen Window to be useful, since the ability to open multiple apps via floating windows as well as the ability to shrink them down to little bubbles when you need them out of the way temporarily before you summon them again later is just handy.

The ROM comes with Pen Window Manager, an app which allows you to place any app you wish in Pen Window, by the way (you have to be rooted in order to be able to utilise it).

Combine Pen Window with Multi-Windows and you can imagine the possible magnitude and scale of your multitasking and the level of convenience they both can bring together.

Well, this one is easy. Considering how very much reasonably stable the 4.3 ROM is and having the non-hardware dependent features and functionalities of the new Galaxy Note 3 on your Note 2, you can see how using this ROM is a step up for the Note 2. It makes you feel as though you are using a new phone, I'd venture to say.

Oh, and having the option NOT to install KNOX with this ROM is a 'Thank Goodness' situation. KNOX may be good for business security but I wouldn't want it anywhere near my phone. Placing obstacles in modding and customising your phone because of KNOX is not worth a rat's arse in my non-fiction book. I'd rather take care of my own mobile security and take the opportunity to learn in the process and expand my knowledge than be handcuffed and led by the nose.

And there are also additional features and improvements I haven't mentioned yet, like how there is the option to let incoming calls appear as a pop-up notification panel (with action options) which takes up only like one-fifth of the screen instead of obtrusively taking over the whole entire screen like before.

Overall, it's an improved user experience for the most part.

Being on 4.3, you will observe that Samsung has decided to do away with Quick Command, which I'm inclined to think has been replaced by Pen Window. As I've mentioned, Pen Window has its usefulness in the resizable floating windows and minimized bubbles but Quick Command can launch an app a little faster because of the way it works and because you don't have to pre-draw any boxes.

The perfect scenario would have been having both Pen Window and Quick Command but I guess I can't have my cake and eat it too. Oh well, guess I'll have to accept a little non 100% satisfied hunger.

And finally, the 'Back' (<) and 'Menu' (^) S Pen commands don't work on 4.3 and I presume that's probably because the S Pen of the Note 3 works on its capacitive Menu and Back buttons. If that should be the case, I guess Samsung forgot that even though 4.3 is based on the Note 3 features, the S Pen of the Note 2 doesn't work on its capacitive buttons. We'll see if Sammy brings the Back and Menu commands back on the final official 4.3 firmware.

I mentioned I've made a Nandroid backup (running on 4.1.2 firmware) before flashing the ROM. I won't restore my phone back to my 4.1.2 backup though, which means I'm happy with this ROM and enjoying the new features :) After a couple of battery charge cycles on this ROM, my Note 2's battery life has now settled down and is now once again just as fantastic as before, an important factor for me.

No way will I flash the pure official final 4.3 update when it gets released because of KNOX. My device belongs to me, so why should I turn masochistic and throw handcuffs on myself. Er, I'm not trying to diss anyone who doesn't root and mod their Android device, don't get me wrong. If you don't tinker with your device and don't mind using things as they come (and of course, there's nothing wrong with that), KNOX shouldn't bother you, so it all depends on your needs.

For me, I just happen to have the need to tinker and mod (and I find it fun and enjoyable to do so and it helps me discover and learn about things regarding how the OS works on deeper levels), so KNOX would just get in my way.

The developers at XDA should be able to continue taking the official releases, improve on them as they've always done and either make removing KNOX an available option or just get rid of it altogether, bless them. From this point on, XDA is the way to go for me when it comes to future updates for the Galaxy Note 2.

I guess I've answered a question of mine which I've been wondering all along ever since the Note 3 was launched:

Even though a Note 2 is still not a Note 3 and it doesn't have things like a 1080 full HD screen.. No, I won't be buying a Note 3, I'll wait for the Galaxy Note 4 to be officially announced to see what it brings to the table instead while I continue to enjoy the Note 3 features on my Note 2. Being a tinkerer can many times save you a heck lot of moolah.

Update from around a month or so later: I'm now running on version 3 of the Tigra ROM and I didn't encounter anymore FlashBarService force-closes.

-De Lion Speaks

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Galaxy Note 2 - Now Also a PSP And a Playstation 1 Console

PSP Games
That's the PSP Puzzle Bubble (Bust A Move) game on my Galaxy Note 2 there. Yup, you can play some of the PSP games on your Android device with the PPSSPP app, which is a PSP emulator.

Notice I mentioned you can play some PSP games with the app as opposed to 'all'. That's how it is with emulators, actually. But as you can see on PPSSPP's games compatibility list, quite a number of PSP games are supported. I myself tried running Silent Hill Origins and Obscure: The Aftermath but they couldn't work past their menu screens. Bummer. There could probably be some settings I need to adjust to get them to work properly, I'll have to experiment and see.

For games that work straight without me having to fiddle with anything (like Metal Slug, for example), they work and play just fine and since the screen of the Galaxy Note 2 is bigger than the PSP's, it's a more pleasurable gaming experience for the eyes, even though the hardware buttons of the PSP make it a little easier to control your game character as opposed to on-screen soft buttons, at least for me. Guess I'll need some practice.

Playstation 1 Games

I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to play my favourite Playstation 1 games on my Note 2 thanks to the FPse app. You can spot the on-screen soft controls (you can adjust their opacity) representing the Playstation's controller buttons in the photo there on the left and you have the option to place each of them in several different places around the screen as you see fit.

Oh, and the ability to enable your device's vibration feedback from within the app's settings to emulate the dual-shock Playstation 1 controller is certainly a nice vibrating touch and you can adjust and select the intensity of the vibration feedback. Every Silent Hill fan knows enough to keep the vibration feedback at maximum intensity for optimal kick when blasting shotgun shells right into the faces of the resident mutated monstrosities trying to eat you alive.

I can't seem to be able to find an official updated games compatibility list for FPse though. For example, some of the sites I came across list Silent Hill as being unplayable but the game is working just fine on my Note 2, minus some dialogue sound mash-ups during in-game cut scenes, which is no biggie for me since the cut scenes have subtitles in them.

You can still hear the conversations clearly, it's just that conversation bits from other cut scenes get interjected here and there. Since you play the game much more than watching in-game cut scenes, this shouldn't bother anyone that much and it doesn't detract me away from the gameplay even though the sound mash-ups sound weird.. Well, Silent Hill is meant to be a deliciously weird serving. Shrugs.

Many many moons ago before the turn of the century, I had to be confined at home to be able to play my favourite PSX games on the Playstation 1 console hooked up to the TV. Now? I can take the games and go anywhere outside, including creepy places to play games like Silent Hill on my Note 2.. You know, getting into the mood and all that - And what a joy it is to be able to do so.

I once played some Silent Hill at the playground in Jalan Bahar past midnight all by myself in the dark there (just a few days before the town council decided to leave the lights there on past 00:00a.m. They probably heard the diabolical moans and monstrous groans coming from my Silent Hill game and figured the playground was haunted) and boy, talk about creeped-out kicks. Freakishly awesome.

When you talk about Playstation 1, you talk about Metal Gear Solid. In my opinion, Metal Gear is the tip-top game for the Playstation 1. Every review praised it for its movie-like presentation and story line but for me, the main factor that got me hooked to this game was the conversations.

Lots of games come with bland, corny or even laughable (in a bad and cliche B movie kind of way) conversations and if I could, I would award Metal Gear's scriptwriter the highest gaming award. The conversations in Metal Gear Solid are so good, witty and even educational it makes the conversations of a horde of other games, like yes, even Resident Evil, sound retarded.

When Barry Burton met up with Jill Valentine in the hallway:
Barry: "Jill! I found something!"
Jill: "W-what is it?"
Barry: "It's a weapon.. It's reeeaally powerful!"
So I thought Barry found me a nuclear warhead but turns out, it was just some grenade rounds. Oh please. But ha, still part of the good old gaming times none the less.

Metal Gear Solid and good ol' Solid Snake.. What a thrill it is to be able to play this masterpiece all over again. My Note is now like a time machine that brings me back to the good old retro gaming times. I've tested FPse on my Note 8 tablet too and expected, everything functions just like on my Note 2 - the Galaxy Note 8 is basically a bigger version of the Galaxy Note 2 anyway.

To get FPse to run Playstation 1 games, just google and hunt down the bios file for the Playstation 1 and then within the app's settings, point it to the bios file. You then grab your Playstation 1 game discs you own, convert them to Eboot files and place them in your phone (I place mine in my external micro SD card). To launch them, just select the Eboot file from within FPse. That's the gist of it.

Oh, and you can save your game progress absolutely anywhere in-game with the Quick Save function (you can designate your own Quick Save folder); You are no longer restricted to checkpoints and fixed designated save points, which are limitations of the Playstation 1 console. Cool, huh?

(Update from 2015: I have switched to using ePSXe for playing my Playstation 1 games, which is working better for me on my Note 4)

For PPSSPP, you don't need to hunt down the bios file for the PSP, you just need the ROMs of the PSP games. Just for the record, there are other emulators for other gaming consoles too, like Super Nintendo 64 and Gameboy Advance, for example.

So yeah, happy retro gaming. Enjoy the ride as you yank the past into the present on the screen of your Android device.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October Babies In The Family: Celebration At Cafebiz

My actual birthday is still 22 days away but my family held a hotel buffet celebration today at Cafebiz in Traders Hotel. Why? Because there are 2 other members in the family who are October babies too - my 2nd sister and my bro-in-law, so we had to find some sort of a mid-point between our birthdays and celebrate them all in one go. I'm Scorpio and my bro-in-law and 2nd sister are Librans but no, I certainly didn't feel outnumbered the least bit.

After my Lioness and me hopped out of the cab which brought us to the hotel, the thought still lingering in my mind as we were walking  through the main entrance of Traders Hotel was.. Well, let's just say that if you have to direct a GPS-toting cabby to your destination Every.Freaking.Step of the way, including exactly where to turn using only your humble street directory app for reference which seemed a lot more functional and accurate than his GPS system; all these while you have to write and send out several important emails, you might as well just take over the wheels, considering I couldn't manage to send out all of my emails before we reached the hotel because of the situation.

Yeah, I was pissed but the cabby apologised nicely and offered us a discount, so I was cool with that, reigned myself in and told him nicely back that it was ok.

Next thing I knew, I was drafting and sending out the remaining emails in the hotel lobby as we waited for my family to arrive. Still, I wasn't completely done when they arrived and the emailing spilled into a further 8 minutes or so into the buffet. Good thing my Lioness was there to entertain the kids or they would be constantly asking me what game I was playing while shoving their cute little heads between me and my smartphone's screen to check out what I was doing.

We've actually been to Cafebiz for lunch buffet before during a weekend too just like today but this time, it was a lot more crowded and perhaps that was the reason why I was feeling kinda hot at the place. Too many live meat walking about brings up the atmosphere's temperature, which is something I've always hated. The only times when I can enjoy a crowd is when I'm at a Rock concert or when I'm in a club. Other than that, I'm allergic to throngs of people.

But when I started chatting and playing with the kids as we ate after I was done with my emails, I was caught up in our little world and everything else irritating got zoomed out and pushed away out of our world and out of my radar. I snapped back into the irritations of the surrounding whenever I went to get more food or water though, but it was back to our little world when I came back to our table.

So how's the buffet food here? The food was okay but they didn't give my taste buds orgasms or anything like that. That's not to say that the food is bad, no it's not, it's still okay to eat here but just don't expect yourself to experience culinary nirvana as a result.

As for spread selection, I didn't find it to be that wide. If you are particular about having more variety, I've found The Carousel over at the Royal Plaza on Scotts to be much broader. If I'm not mistaken, it's more costly to eat over there but hey, you do get a wider selection there.

Secretly though, I'm hoping my family will decide to try out other forms of lunching and dining other than hotel buffets all the time, considering the fact that I've reached the point where I've already trained my body to eat less so that I won't grow fat, besides trying out something different for a change. Even my Lioness commented that I've eaten a lot less than usual this time round.

Ha, to think that my elder sister used to drag me along to buffets when I had a faster metabolism because I could eat a horse in an entire setting, so she always felt that bringing me along justified the buffet costs. That is no longer the case, sis, I wanna watch my waistline, stay slim and continue to feel good about myself. Sorry :)

Right after we were done with the buffet, out came the birthday cake which my Lioness and me brought over ourselves and what a kawaii cake! It was the most adorable cake I've ever received and we all have my Lioness to thank for it since she was the one who selected and ordered it. The kids were all over it and the adults couldn't help smiling at the sight of it. I think I heard about 10 utterances of the word 'cute' in 5 seconds and I was feeling kinda painful when we cut it.

And it was delicious :) Thank you, Babe.

So yeah, I'm crashing towards another +1 to my age and I've been finding myself lately constantly telling myself to do and complete the things and personal projects I'm doing and never waste time. The older you get, the more you should value and cherish the time you have. I guess you take a sip out of the fountain of youth everytime you compress Time and squeeze as many goals and aspirations as you can into it and achieve them.

For me personally, the best question to always ask myself is: Why am I doing this?

Thing is though, I sometimes feel that I'm actually slowly killing myself by rushing myself too much, especially during the times when I deprive myself of some of my sleeping hours in order to do more, ha. Sometimes, my friends complain to me about my seemingly random disappearing acts when they tried asking me out but I would seem to have disappeared into thin air and then suddenly replying their messages or calls much later when I was done with whatever I was doing.

Other times, I would blame myself and get eaten up by guilt when I think I didn't make optimal use of my time and have just wasted away the hours. It can be a horrible feeling that makes you feel that you've let yourself and God down, since Time is a gift to mankind in my book and I believe, in God's book too.

But I guess I have to strike a balance somehow because I'm only human and in-between pushing myself, I have to pause and just chill to smell the roses too.. and cherish these moments in time as well, just like today when I spent time with my loved ones just to chill out and enjoy one another's company. Time is precious but so are your family, buddies and your own rest intervals.

So cherish and make optimal use of your time but remember to chill, reward yourself and enjoy in-betwen too. Live.

-De Lion Speaks

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Puzzles That Trigger Anatomy Conflict

My eyes are telling me that if I apply the technique above to a whole block of chocolate everytime I bite off a squared chunk off it, I will never have to go hungry or need to buy anymore chocolate ever again.. But my brain is telling my eyes: "Go home, you are drunk."

Excuse me while I go reconcile and make peace between my eyes and brain out of this mind-fuck. They both hurt.


-De Lion Speaks

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hands-On With The Galaxy Note 3

(Not a review, just a quick & dirty hands-on take on things, considering the queue at the Note 3 demo booth is piling up fast behind me):

I'm a fan of the Galaxy Note series of devices because the functionalities of the S Pen (and the S Pen is one of the most underestimated of devices because most folks don't see it past a normal capacitive stylus but it's actually more than that), the multi-windows feature and the big screens of the Note devices all combine to give me not only a much more enjoyable mobile multimedia experience but also better productivity and efficiency, like the way they aid me with my blogging, for example.

And now, a new member of the Note family has just been unleashed upon the world - the Galaxy Note 3. Hang on, I don't embed sound files here on my blog site but make pretend you just heard a drum roll that went along with the previous sentence. You know, getting in the appropriate mood and all.

So I'm now at the Samsung store in the mall to see for myself in person and play with the Galaxy Note 3. Actually, the display demo sets have already been made available for public molestation since a few days back but I only have the convenience and opportunity to fondle the device today, right now. Honestly, since I already have the Galaxy Note 2 and based on what's been revealed about the Note 3, the Note 3 is a 'must definitely try out but I don't really have to rush to do so' device for me.

Faux Leather

Before we can dive into the guts of gadgets, we set our eyes and hands on their physical appearances and physical forms first, yes? We start from their outsides and work our way into them. When I saw the videos and the photos in articles showcasing the Note 3, I really liked the direction Sammy took with the device in the looks department: the more squared-off look and the faux leather backplate.

Make no mistake regarding the faux leather back which even sports fake threadings that simulate the leathery look, because the material is still plastic. Even though such things are matters of subjective preferences, to my eyes at least, the faux leather looks so much better and more executive, especially on the black model. I'm holding the Note 3 in my hands right now and my fingers are experiencing a pleasant sensation as I slide them across the material. Heck, the new material thrashes the old glossy and slippery design which is a fingerprint magnet.

I'm just wondering whether those fake threadings will slowly fall apart if I keep taking the phone in and out of my jeans over a period of time though.

Regardless, I'm liking the faux leather look and feel to the extent I'm thinking to myself that if I should get the Note 3, I might just throw a clear screen protector on it and forgo using any case on it, except when I go travelling overseas or if I go to some rough & tumble places. The official S-View cases with holes in them for your notifications and quick info glances are looking good though, and I'm especially liking the mustard yellow and orange ones. And since I'm doing things in public mode right now, I'm resisting the urge to do a nose-on on the backplate to see if it smells like leather, which is hard.

Internal Storage

Welcome to the here & now finally, Samsung :) What took you so long to realize that 16gb of internal storage is so pre-historic, especially considering how much space TouchWiz requires? We have the Galaxy S4 fiasco  to thank for Samsung's move to 32gb of internal storage, since lots of flak were thrown their way when S4 users discovered the OS ate up almost half of the S4's 16gb internal storage when it launched. Mobile famine much?

Sure, there's the external micro SD card which is great but app data (not talking about just the APK files here but the data which takes up the bulk storage space-wise) can't be installed on external memory by default and even though I can circumvent the situation by moving my app data to my external SD with FolderMount because my device is rooted, I'd rather have more internal storage space from the get-go to begin with. There's necessary hacking and there's unnecessary hacking that shouldn't even have to be done in the first place.

Besides, not everyone likes or have the needs major enough to justify having their devices rooted, so making noise and screaming at Samsung to get with the times to cater to the broader general market is the much better choice. No noise, no budge. So thank you, S4-slingers. It's good to see that Samsung finally made the move and about damn time too.

It's time to dive into the software side of things:

Air Command

Unsheathe the S Pen of the Galaxy Note 3 and out pops the Air Command menu which gives you access to 5 functions, namely: Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Write, S Finder and Pen Window which you can read about in detail here.

And by the way, I was just wondering why the Air Command menu was taking so long to pop out with the pen already out and I was trying to access it again by holding down on the S Pen's button on several attempts when I unintentionally tapped on the button just once, let go right away and out pops the Air Command menu immediately. So uh, if you keep holding down on the S Pen's button, Air Command will be delayed. You just need to press and let go as in Zen. How embarrassing..

I'm finding all 5 of the Air Command menu functions handy except for the Pen Window which has me scratching my head. I don't find it to be completely useless, don't get me wrong, it just seems rather tedious (for lack of a better word) in the absence of Quick Command, which for some reason, Samsung has decided to let it go AWOL on the Note 3. I'll explain this in detail in the next following section.

I almost made the conclusion that the Screen Write function is rather redundant, considering you can achieve the same result as Screen Write by just holding down on the S Pen's button while placing the tip of the pen on the screen to generate an editable screenshot. However, not every Note user is aware of or remembers the technique for taking screenshots with the S Pen and Samsung is trying to encourage more usage of the S Pen, so viewing the situation from this angle, including Screen Write in the Air Command menu serves to remind users that the functionality exists and all it takes is just a tap this time.

And now, about that Pen Window..

Rectangles and Redundancy

One of the things I love about my Note 2 is the Quick Command feature which allows me to launch any app using gestures, or rather, keywords, which I can program my own keywords to launch my own selected apps. All it takes is holding down on the S Pen's button while swiping up on the screen and Quick Command pops out like a jack-in-a-box. You then input the keyword tied to the app you want and the app gets launched.

For example, I can program Quick Command to launch the Flipboard app everytime I write the letter 'F' (or any combination of letters) in its window with the S Pen. You can also launch functions and settings like WiFi and Bluetooth with it, not just apps. So as you can imagine, Quick Command can help with accessing your commonly used apps quickly, you just need to program keywords tied to each of them. Well, if you should forget any of your keywords, you can see everything you've programmed by going into the settings.

The multi-window can allow you quick access to apps also, but if you are not rooted, you cannot add additional apps to it other than the pre-determined default ones, unless you wanna take things to this extent.

Since the Quick Command feature is useful to me, you can imagine my dismay upon my discovery that it seems to have gone AWOL on the Note 3. I've been standing here doing swipe-ups repeatedly with the S Pen while holding down on its button, hoping against hope that I will soon see Quick Command popping out.. but no, Life has decided to be cruel.

If the Samsung staffs here at the store happen to be observing me, they ought to be wondering by now if I'm trying to see if I can create a groove on the Note 3's screen by repeatedly slashing the S Pen across its surface. I hope their hearts break if they are also seeing the sad expression on my face too, sniff. I think I should stop torturing the screen now, if something is not there, it's not there.

Oh wait, it's dawning on me that Quick Command could have been replaced by Pen Window. I begin to swallow hard.. involuntarily. You see, there are only 8 pre-determined apps (the calculator, clock, YouTube, contacts, phone, ChatOn, Hangouts and the browser) you can launch with Pen Window. Whoopydoo, just 8.. and you cannot program your own keywords in Pen Window to launch your own selected apps. Regression is a scary thing.

To add a dash of comedy to injury, Pen Window works in this way after you've selected it from the Air Command menu: you draw a rectangle of any size you fancy and a window containing those 8 apps appear. Select any of those 8 apps and it gets launched, supposedly in the same size as the rectangle you just drew earlier. Now pray tell me, Samsung:

  1. Wouldn't it be faster if the apps selection list gets launched immediately right after you select Pen Window from the Air Command menu instead of having to take the time to draw a rectangle first? The size of the launched app doesn't seem to be exactly the same size as the rectangle I just drew anyway, which means I might still have to adjust the window manually and so, I would rather adjust the launched app's window size right after it gets launched without having to draw a rectangle first.

    Dragging a corner of a window to resize it is faster and easier than having to draw a rectangle first - the former basically only requires you to drag in one direction while the latter requires you to drag the S Pen in 4 directions to create a box. For both methods, making adjustments to position the window exactly where you want it after the app is launched can count as an extra step too, but that's moot since it can apply to both cases, considering the size of the rectangle you draw doesn't seem to tally exactly with the size of the window of the launched app anyway.

    So what's the point of having to draw out the rectangles?

  2. Which is faster: holding down on the button of the S Pen while swiping it up to activate Quick Command, followed by inputting a keyword to immediately launch an app, or having to select the Pen Window within the Air Command menu, start taking the time to draw a rectangle which activates a list of the 8 apps (you may need to manually scroll down on the list if the rectangle you just drew is too small or too narrow to show all 8 apps at once, taking albeit short but still an extra amount of time) and then selecting the targetted app to launch it?

    So why did Samsung get rid of the much more efficient Quick Command and replaced it with something else that requires more steps and which allows a lesser selection of app choices? Last I checked, the Galaxy Note devices were meant to be tools for efficient productivity. Taking a longer route to accomplish something is so efficiently unproductive, no?

It seems like progress just took 10 steps forward and 1 step backwards. All is not lost though, since the floating windows derived by the Pen Window and the ability to shrink them down to Chat Head-like bubbles can have their uses and conveniences. But damn it, having to draw rectangles is unnecessary and I will definitely miss Quick Command if I should end up getting the Note 3.

And In The End..

There is no mistaking that in the area of hardware specs, the Note 3 is definitely better - the 1080p full HD screen (the Note 2 has 720p), the 32gb of internal storage (16gb on the Note 2), the 3gb of RAM (the Note 2 has 2gb) and the faster and more power-efficient CPU - all these combine to not only give the eyes more candy, they also ought to help make the new Note zippier and smoother.

Other than the issues I've mentioned above, everything else about the Note 3 is better and much improved.

But it's not like the Note 3 has already started making my Note 2 seem ugly nor is it making me feel I'm wading through binary molasses with my Note 2. Uh-uh, far from it. I still feel that the Galaxy Note 2 is one heck of a device, just like how Hard Rock and Heavy Metal can still pump me up and make me headbang in an era of whimsical teenybopping Pop music that keep singing about how guys and girls wanna do the Hara Kiri on themselves just because the girl or guy they fancy refuse to look their way. They even twerk while they are at it.

I suppose if you are using the venerable original Note, the S2 or the S3, upgrading to the Note 3 will be a great upgrade indeed. If you have any other phone and would now like a new phone geared towards productivity and multitasking, or if you think that the functionalities of the S Pen can aid you in your everyday tasks, well, the Note 3 might just be ideal for your needs.

Will I upgrade to the Note 3 myself? Now that's a tough question for me, honestly. I don't know 100% yet and I'm still on the fence, but right now, I'm leaning more towards the option of waiting for the Note 4. I'm still happy with my Note 2, you see. I don't think I'll mind waiting for my contract with my telco to expire and getting the Note 4 subsidized on a re-contract next year. Never say never though.

Update: Oh bloody hell, now there's the KNOX issue to consider too. Hitler would have cracked a smug one with this one. Security is a good thing but not when it throws handcuffs on you and doesn't leave you with a choice when it's your very own device, so screw you Samsung.

You should have made this optional instead. If the end-user could choose: 'No, I don't wanna activate KNOX', just like in checking the box next to 'Unknown Sources' under the Security options but ends up fucking things up, nobody could blame Samsung anyway.

What exactly does KNOX truly stand for anyway, Kaput 'N Obstruct Xda?

One thing I'm sure of though: despite the Pen Window issue, the demise of Quick Command (sniff) and that KNOX issue, the Galaxy Note 3 is a very nice device to have.

I'm sorry I couldn't give a more in-depth analysis of the new Galaxy Note 3 and there could be many more things I've missed which I can only discover with prolonged usage and experience with the device over a reasonable period of time. But like I've already mentioned in the beginning, this had to be a quick and dirty hands-on, since it's time for me to move away from the booth and make way for the guy waiting behind me patiently all these while.

The guy is now playing with the same Note 3 I've just tangoed with. If I suddenly hear him screaming in agony as I walk out the store, it ought to be because of his discovery that Quick Command died.

-De Lion Speaks

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Galaxy Note 3

Are you curious about the Galaxy Note 3, dear reader? If you are, then chances are that you've already watched the recent Samsung Unpacked Event in Berlin which unveiled the device in all its glory.

But just in case some of you haven't:

Of course, it's still too early for a comprehensive head-to-head PK session between the Note 2 and the new Note 3. But with every day that passes by since the Unpacked Event, we get closer and closer to the Note deathmatch arena. Here's a recent article that gives an early comparison (just don't let the couple of typos and that '$299' in the article do the mind-mess on you).

Done reading the article? And who doesn't like videos, yes? So here's a hands-on video treat of the Galaxy Note 3:

Some folks are lucky enough to get their mitts on the new toy already, the lucky bastards.

For me, I really dig the new faux-Ieather design, the boxier overall look and thank goodness that the 16gb internal storage is done away with on the Note 3, a long-awaited big Phew on that. Yuppers, 32gb is the minimum this time; welcome to late 2013, Samsung :)

I have to admit that whether I'Il be getting the Note 3 or not when it's released is a tough question for me. If I had half the country's wealth, you can be sure I wouldn't hesitate in getting one. But since I'm just a mule of the economy, I'll have to calculate and determine the magnitude of the benefits of an upgrade from my Note 2; If it's big enough, I'll take the plunge off-contract, since I'm not eligible for a re-contract yet till next year. If it's not, I'll hang on for the Note 4 and get it subsidized on contract next year.

I still love my Note 2 to bits and at the same time, I really like the new Note 3 from what I've seen and read about it so far though. According to Samsung, the Note 3 will be launched world-wide later this month in September except for the States and Japan (October instead for these 2 places).

'Tis the season to make a geeky choice again. Something tells me though, that if I should end up deciding against getting the Note 3 and I set my eyes on it in the store and play with it, I'd have to suppress Nerdgasm until my face turns dark blue.

-De Lion Speaks 

Monday, September 9, 2013

All Rocked Up - Key To Staying Alive

Monday Morning Ritual: Psyching yourself up and telling yourself to stay alive out there and make it through the day.

The music you hear as you step out to the big bad world is the key.

I'm a Stratocaster guy but I've always been jealous of Les Pauls.

-De Lion Speaks

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Quickie: A Peek At How I Blog With My Galaxy Note 8.0

I'm usually long-winded but.. Ready? Commencing quickie, so let's do this in a hurry:

If I condense my thoughts regarding crafting out my blog posts in their entirety using my Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet in just one single photo, it's this (you can click on it to bloat it up if you need to):

Everybody already knows the old saying about how a picture speaks a thousand words but in my case here though, I didn't get that ambitious. As you can see, I only used exactly 10 words but they do the job adequately in conveying the idea that the Galaxy Note 8.0 is my blogging tool of choice, I trust.

It's all about the precision of the S Pen (especially when it comes to photo editing and artwork which the S Pen works on much easier and smoother as compared to fingers) and the Multi-Windows feature that allows me to reference additional information without being jolted out of my main project and losing sight of it and becoming disorientated.

Here's a look at this particular blog post in progress on my Note 8.0:

The photo above shows how I use the multi-windows feature: the left section of the photo shows my blog draft at the top while I work on a photo at the bottom. I can resize any of the windows if I need more work space without losing reference of the other. The section on the right of the photo shows my S Note at the bottom containing the HTML tags and templates I use frequently which I can just copy and then paste into the blog draft where I need them at the top window.

Also, when I need to hunt for information using the web browser, copy URL addresses or embed YouTube videos by copying down their embed codes, I can just drag in the browser by pulling it in from the multi-window apps selection on the left.

If you don't root your Note device though, you will have no say in exactly which apps are made available for multi-windows. So an unrooted Note device evokes the control freak rebel in me and prompts me to snatch over the reins. It's my device after all, so it's my say and rightfully so. Amen.

The days of being able to blog only when in front of the computer (and aching backs) have been long gone ever since mobile tech started taking over lots of tasks from the computer. My Galaxy Note 8 is my weapon of choice when it comes to Blogger's WMD.

Besides the multi-windows, the functionalities of the S Pen is what differentiates the Note device, which lots of folks misunderstand and underestimate by not viewing it as something beyond a normal capacitive stylus: functions like Quick Command, Page Crop (which Samsung calls "Clip Tool"), as well as hover air-view, which functions just like a computer mouse on website pull-down menus and gives you visual previews on video timelines come to mind.

The powerful functions of the S Pen come not just from its tip, but also from its button, which I think most Note owners hardly or never press. I know of Note owners whose S Pens reside permanently in their silos, never ever seeing the light of day. It's a pity that for the most part, the Note device is an under-utilized device.

Anyway, when it comes to blogging, it's a breeze writing and formatting with this bad mutha. Anytime, anywhere.

And that concludes our quickie. Hope you've experienced Nerdgasm and enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it. And I mean literally writing out every word with the S Pen since I'm a writer-wannabe, with pen and all, cough.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Getting Creeped Out For Entertainment Taiwanese-Style

My Lioness knows full well that I'm a big fan of mysteries, especially mysteries that evoke my goosebumps and send chills down my spine. Even in gaming, my favourite genre is Survival Horror. Horror is also my prime choice for movies, fiction, graphic novels and manga. Yup, I'm the sort that gets kicks out of getting creeped out.

That's either some dark and morbid Scorpio fetish or I've never committed damnable and unspeakable evils like killing someone (terrorists, monsters and ghouls made out of polygons and pixels don't count), destroying the lives of others or burning effigies of Barney the nasal dinosaur, which probably explains why I can have the resilience to face the horrors of things that go bump in the night. And enjoy it.

Luckily for me, my Lioness is also a horror fan even though she has a lower resilience to the creep factor and has to peek through the gaps of the fingers of her hands whenever we watch horror movies. Well, she's a Gemini, so she's supposed to be comical like that anyway - that side of them you usually only have the privilege of seeing if you become close to them.

Dear reader, if you happen to enjoy getting creeped out too and you understand the Mandarin language, read on:

I can't remember exactly if it was during my last working day with my previous company or the day after, but since I've decided to take a break during that time, it was just perfect timing that my Lioness found and introduced me to this Taiwanese series '爱哟我的妈'.

This series discusses mysteries both modern and ancient, ghosts (watch out for the '鬼灯獎' segments every monday night), strange crimes both solved and unsolved, the spiritual world, strange creatures, extraterrestrial life, and even urban legends. Once in awhile, they may discuss about other light-hearted and even humorous topics but for the most part, the mysteries and darker topics hold dominance.

Here, have a look at the very first 爱哟我的妈 video I watched that got me hooked to the series:

Of course, having a webpage that consolidates and organizes the different segments of this still on-going series can be more conducive for ease of navigation and for keeping track of your viewing progress, as opposed to the randomized search results on YouTube, so here's the organized webpage on Maplestage. However, you can still come across a handful of segments on YouTube which are not found on Maplestage. Just treat those as extra tidbits once you've exhausted the list on Maplestage.

(Update from the future: The entire series has been revamped and renamed to 来自星星的事).

真相 Hold 得住
My Lioness is one of the best cyber detectives I know and within a short period of time after I've started chasing the 爱哟我的妈 series, she found 真相 Hold 得住 which also discusses the mysteries and creepy topics.

The difference between this one and 爱哟我的妈 is that 真相 Hold 得住 attempts to approach the topics from a more scientific angle - which can end up rather comical sometimes because, well, there are times when Science cannot explain everything and ends up finding its back against the wall.

Here's one of the video segments from the series:

And here's the Maplestage list of this series.

(Update from the future: Maplestage has discontinued providing further updates for this series because it has ended. Even so, if you've never watched this series before, the segments listed on the existing page on Maplestage should still entertain you for a long while.)

Some time last month, I found another series myself that focuses purely on ghosts. I'll just say that if you find the ghostly segments of 爱哟我的妈 scary, then watching 鬼话连篇 should make you feel that the other series shows are the softcore versions in the creepy department. The segments of 鬼话连篇 may start out all calm and peaceful sometimes but the creep factor can suddenly jump out at you and make your skin crawl.

Don't get me wrong, 爱哟我的妈 and 真相 Hold 得住 are still very much enjoyable to watch (and both can help in expanding your general, geographical and historical knowledge), it's just that 鬼话连篇 takes things to more extreme and dangerous levels: in majority of the segments, the hosts and guests infiltrate haunted places and have to do things like being isolated all alone in the creepiest parts of the haunted grounds in complete darkness while doing things to lure the spirits to manifest themselves. It's like the Fear Factor of the creepy shows. This one takes you to the actual places instead of just holding discussions in the studio.

Even though this much older series is no longer on-ongoing, the segments you can find on YouTube number in the hundreds (around 300 odd or so if I'm not mistaken). I haven't come across any webpage that lists out the segments of this series in an organized manner yet and the segments found on YouTube come mostly with each segment sliced into 4 separate parts, so you have to do a bit of hunting for the remaining parts of each segment you watch (well worth it, in my opinion).

If you are interested in this series and to make things easier, just head over to ETTV32's YouTube channel, go to their playlists and hunt down the series from there.

Here's a segment from the series:
(Don't click on the video if you are squeamish, have a weak heart or if you are a minor. You've been warned)

Boy, you just gotta love Amy 李冠儀.

And by the way, did you watch the video alone in the dark with all the lights turned off and the volume pumped up? If you didn't, try doing so. Otherwise, you might miss some of the ghostly weepings and moans, not to mention the proper vibes. If you watch the series in a well-lit room with company and want to make a comment here about how you didn't find the series creepy, then no machismo bragging rights for you here.

Anyway, whether you get scared silly or you have balls of steel and could just shrug off the creeps, I hope you enjoy these 3 shows.

And finally, just keep an open mind but don't believe 100% in everything you see and hear at face value. Entertainment is still meant to be, well, entertainment. Truth can be like a cake - it comes out from the oven all bland looking but you can put icing, cream, fruits, confectionery decorations and what-have-yous on it just to make it more appealing and aesthetically pleasing.

But even so, they say there's no smoke without fire.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Career: When A Buddy Moves On

Background: How I knew my buddy Lim
I've known Lim since my teenage days during the early 90's when I was just 19 years old or so - when I didn't have to impose the regime of regular anti-oxidant and collagen intakes on myself to combat the aging effect on the skin. Ah, the convenience of youth. Lim and me have been staying in Ghim Moh and since that little estate is one of the smallest estates on the island, it was easy to make friends in the neighbourhood.

Being young lads, Lim and me and the friends we hung out with haunted the night - I would usually be studying under some block till the wee hours of the morning if I wasn't hunting for ghosts and adventure with my friends or just hanging out at the coffeeshops way past their closing time.

I happened to be studying at the void deck of this apartment block when my friend Joe suddenly came out of nowhere with Lim around 2 or 3a.m. and introduced Lim to me. That was how I knew Lim. It was possible making new friends even during such ungodly hours in Ghim Moh. Suddenly seeing friends appear after midnight was a common occurrence there, since it's a small estate and being hyper young men, me and my friends didn't like to sleep at night and this song happened to be sort of like our theme song back then:

Us as working adults
The years rolled by and I don't think I've even had the chance to blink and it's already 2013, which I can't help but arrive at the conclusion that the scribe and prophet who formulated the Mayan calender didn't deserve his pension. 2013 sees Lim and me no longer staying in Ghim Moh. In fact, we've moved further west and coincidentally, Lim's current estate is just behind mine within walking distance, separated only by the tail end of a highway. You can imagine that we still hang out with each other, usually at the one and only coffeeshop in his estate.

By the way, I had to add the word 'career' in the title of this blog post to avoid misunderstanding that a buddy of mine has passed on, yeesh. The subject of the matter at hand is that today is Lim's last working day with his current company which he has been working for for 15 years.

15 years. He started since 1998, imagine that. Not everyone could stick with the same job that long. Lim actually resigned on his own accord and I guess it takes a lot of shitty happenings to make an old veteran decide to leave the job he's been working for that long.

Lim told me about his decision weeks before but I forgot that today is his last working day when he has to report in for work for the final time. More accurately speaking, after today, he will start clearing his remaining annual paid leaves all the way till the end of August, so the last day of August is his official final day of employment and today is his last reporting day - which is as good as over.

When Lim sent me his text message just now, I got reminded that yeah, today is supposed to be his final reporting day. So he asked if I would like to meet him at the coffeeshop in his estate later in the early afternoon, since he can leave his workplace after he packs up and clears his cabinet. Yup, today is out-processing day for him, so he is allowed an early release. I immediately replied him yes, I will meet him. Why? Because I know how it feels like to leave a job you've enjoyed for years but still had to choose to leave in the end because of drastically changed circumstances that warrants you to move on.

I want to make sure that Lim will be ok and I want to give my buddy emotional support, since such a thing is never pleasant and it can affect you emotionally. 15 years is a duration you can't just shrug away and sever yourself from in just a moment. Besides his colleagues, I'm Lim's only friend who knows about his current situation. Not even his family members know about it, so I'm meeting my buddy to be there for him.

Lim's situation
I'm here at the coffeeshop sipping coffee and Lim finally arrives with a big bag stuffed full with his belongings he has cleared from his work cabinet. The first thing I'm telling myself to observe first is his countenance. He is looking tired but there isn't any trace of depression or despondency, which is a good thing even though it might take some time for the weight of a given situation to sink into the mind sometimes.

"Well, this is it," Lim says as he sits himself down while dumping his bag at the empty chair right next to him. Funny how I said the same thing to myself at the end of my final reporting day during my previous job recently. Looking at Lim now, I see a superimposed version of myself from back then. Yup, I know exactly how it feels like.

Lim has not found a new job yet even though he has leads and his company will still give him a full month's pay for August, since his remaining annual leaves he will start clearing from tomorrow onwards till the end of August are paid leaves. Thing is, he can only start a new job from the 1st of September onwards or his company can litigate against him. Trouble is, he told his family that he will be clearing his leaves till mid-August. I suppose he will have to undergo some DIY Ninja training and learn to disappear from the house during work hours after the middle of August.

"Darn, you should have just told your family honestly about the truth so that you don't have to make the situation any harder for yourself, brother," I say to him but it's his choice and what's done is done. Lim is still single and he is staying with his dad and and one of his sisters, so I suppose he just wants to avoid complications and spare himself from some tiresome explanations and family drama. Lim happens to be the kind of guy who avoids the spotlight and hates getting himself right smack in the center of attention. Come to think of it, perhaps this explains why he has never had a Facebook account.

Digging into his bag, he pulls out a pile of file folders and says: "Here, wanna have a look at all the certificates I've obtained from all these 15 years of service?" Looking through the huge stash of certificates, I exclaim: "My goodness, that's a shitload of certificates you've collected in all these 15 years as a donkey, er, I mean in all these 15 long donkey years, man!" There are multiple long service awards, courses certificates and good service awards among others. Lim shrugs and replies: "They are nothing major, really. Those courses were just a few days long each."

Lim then tells me how happy he was working in the company during the first few years before everything deteriorated and went down the corporate crapper. He actually started contemplating leaving the company since some years ago but he held on, hoping for the best that things could take a turn for the better. Apparently, it didn't and the situation continued to slide deeper into misery and the tide finally went above his neck. How very familiar.

I've known Lim long enough to know that it takes a lot to break him and make him throw in the towel. He was a combat Infantryman and second in-charge in his platoon (both not by choice) from way way back before camouflaged uniforms started becoming standard issue halfway through his service and his army experiences he told me about would have been enough to make a mama's boy go AWOL or worse. Soldiers nowadays have it much much better than soldiers from days forgotten and that's a fact, since technology wasn't so advanced back then and they had to rely more on brute force.

Remember that if you are a guy about to enlist for National Service and you happen to be reading this. You won't even have to iron your number 4 unlike how the previous generation had to.

Even though Lim was a primary school drop-out who lost his mother when he was just a kid, there is a lot I respect about him. He may be middle-aged now and he may have lost the physical resilience he had during his younger soldiering days but a lifetime of developed mental resilience is not something you lose that easily. There are some qualities that are quite immune to the passage of time of which time itself can't erode easily. I know the man, he can take a lot of shit and setbacks and I've seen him smile and crack jokes through the pain. He will always be a soldier of life in my eyes.

"Well, it took you years to finally decide to leave," I say to him, "so you already tried but things didn't work out and the shit has hit the fan.. Multiple times too. You've held out long enough, buddy. Just march on, look forward and move on, troop. I really think you've earned the right to move on to better pastures.''

As we both reach his apartment block where we have to split and I continue walking back to my estate, I look back at Lim with his back towards me and walking towards the lift. I begin to utter a silent prayer that the good Lord will uphold, encourage and bless my buddy and watch over him and guide him to a better job where he can be happy working in.

Pursuit of Happiness
Major issues and decisions in life ought to be weighted, calculated and analyzed with one's mind but at the same time, one should also listen to one's heart. We are all capable of thought and we are all capable of denial and even self-hypnosis but ignoring how we truly feel towards the situation at hand, whatever it may happen to be and doing the contrary to how we truly feel will eventually lead to misery.

Misery is not a thought, misery is something you feel instead that eats you up from the inside of your being. Being true to oneself helps a lot in preventing oneself from falling into the dark abyss of the psyche and getting tortured in there by one's own hand. Yup, I do believe that fakey and plastic folks who put on fake fronts about themselves all the time are actually miserable inside. The saddest ones are the ones who try to hypnotize themselves into happiness that is never real. You can't make a forced entry into a castle in the clouds that's only a figment of your fake facade which is never there in reality.

Even if you have absolutely no choice but to do the contrary to what you feel is the right thing to do because circumstances Ieaves you with no choice, acknowledging the fact that you are going against how you truly feel instead of allowing denial to practice hypnosis on you is in its own way, being true to yourself too. Circumstances and people can dictate and control your actions but they cannot reach into you to rob you of how you are really feeling inside.

If you can control what you do next and your heart tells you that you've already done your best and now is the time you should be moving on, then you owe it to yourself to start making preparations to move on. A change in career is something that can demand a heck lot more considerations though. If you are young, you have it much easier: you may be able to afford quitting your job now, go for an overseas trip to rejuvenate yourself and broaden your mind (you should if you can) and then come back home and start looking for a new job.

If you are older, you need to dive into your bank account and CPF accounts and take on the role of hardcore accountant. Since career can, and ideally, be ideal enough to become a lifetime commitment, especially for an older person, if you are truly and utterly miserable in your job, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to continue to be miserable for the rest of your life until you can afford to retire. In such an unfortunate situation, it's better to start hunting for a new working environment while you endure your current situation and then haul yourself out of your misery once you've signed a new employment letter. There are some aspects in every career which are just as important as one's salary but which money just can't buy.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you quit your job just because of petty minor setbacks which you can actually triumph over with a little effort, woe be to the next employer who hires you and woe be to you when the employer fires you. There is no such thing as a perfect job with only ups and no downs.

If you have to go, go forth with the heart of a lion
A career change takes a lot of courage for the serious worker. If you seek change and are willing to leave the baggage of your current job and comfort zone behind and take only the lessons learnt and experience with you, humble yourself enough to embrace the new changes (and the new lower salary if that should happen to be the case) in the new job and are willing to learn and earn from scratch if you are heading towards a new industry, then, humility should open more doors for you.

Of course, if you have to accept a lower salary, make sure first that it can still allow you to survive and get by. Not having enough to survive adequately will only bring you right back to misery. I suppose it boils down to taking a long hard look between wants versus needs. But hey, you can persevere and excel in your new job and slowly work and earn your way up.

Change can be scary sometimes but not giving yourself a chance after you've expended your best efforts and sealing the door that will lead you out of your misery shut is even scarier. You know what they say about suicide and there is such a thing as career suicide.

So stay alive in the rat race and don't forget about your own happiness too. Wait, I better rephrase this:

So stay alive in the rat race and don't forget that there's no such thing as a 100% happy rat race. Even so, if misery far outweighs everything else, you owe it to yourself to tip the scale for better balance. Only when you decide to do something about it can happiness have a chance of gaining more ground and you know what they say about the happier worker.

Courage is the lethal weapon against misery and courage takes you places - including new ones.

-De Lion Speaks

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Odd One Out Captures The Attention

So I was surfing the recruitment section of the national newspaper to gauge how the local employment market is doing and came across this one, which brought on a chuckle and a smile:

I wouldn't mind working for a goofy company with an attitude and sense of humour like that; sure as heck breaks the motononous and boring straitjacket pretentiousness of corporate formality for a breath of fresh air.

Don't get me wrong, professional formality is of course necessary but the ability to letting one's hair down once in awhile at appropriate times can be as therapeutic as cleaning up after hopeless and messy bananas.. Just kidding, I really like the ad :)

-De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

You Know You've Spotted A Spoilt Brat When..

According to this article, Apple is having a taste of the receiving end of the punches they've been throwing around. Have a good read of the article along with the reader comments at the bottom of the article before you continue with the rest of this blog entry or I might sound like I'm speaking gibberish.

Ok, if you don't have the time to, I'll just give a nutshell summary of the subject matter: Apple, who all along has been sue-happy and trying to get their competitors' products banned through patent litigations, is now whining about some of their own iDevices getting banned.

Before I continue, I better make my stand clear here:

  1. I have nothing against iUsers except for the snobs who think the iDevices they hold in their hands make them all high & mighty and superior human beings. It's already 2013 and 2007 is history, so it looks like arrogance needs to get a move along and catch up with the times. My best friend is actually an iFan and both of us can get along just fine despite our differences in opinions. He happens to have a healthy dose of humility about him and an open mind, you see.

  2. I have nothing against iDevices even though I no longer use them because they can no longer catch up with my mobile needs requirements and that's just me. Still, iDevices function well for folks who prefer things simpler and there's nothing wrong with that - if we ignore Apple maps, that is.

  3. The only issue I have with Apple is Apple as a company and their attitude towards the industry, which is explained in the next point:

  4. If Apple feels that their intellectual property rights have been violated and they should seek the law to remedy the situation, they have the right to do so. However, when you try to patent industry standards like rectangles with rounded corners, which happens to be one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard, you reek of petty attempts at monopoly to the discerning consumer.

Guess who will be at the ultimate receiving end of the punches and suffer the most when the industry gets monopolised by a single entity? You and me - the consumers. When there is no longer any competition, whoever monopolises could rest on the laurels, innovation and progress could then slow down or gasp, ground to a halt and consumers would be under the mercy of willy-nilly price hikes on a whim. HitIer squashed everyone opposed to him and he had his fun and his days in the sun while folks got shoved into concentration camps, didn't that sonofabitch?

I hope we can all come to the same conclusion here regarding how the mobile industry would be like if only Apple could manufacture and produce rectangular smartphones with rounded corners, heh. If you don't find such a scenario absurd, then I suppose you should find this blog post absurd by this point and you should stop reading further. I think you can still get tour packages to North Korea.

If you are agreeable with me (I'm cool if you don't, just penning down my thoughts and opinion here), let's continue. So what's my take regarding the situation reported in the linked Cnet article? I'll just keep it short and to the point:

  1. It's nice seeing the roles reversed here. 'Irreparable harm', huh? Apple likes throwing punches but it seems they can't take one. That's how spoilt brats are.

  2. When you draw first blood and start going thermonuclear but you can't handle your own bruises, you deserve getting kicked right in the bloody mouth.

Note that I wasn't trying to advocate violence with that 'getting kicked right in the bloody mouth' remark there. That's just a figure of speech. If it makes you uncomfortable, my apologies. You can always substitute it with:

You deserve getting a huge chunk bitten off your rotten apple, Apple.

What an appropriate logo Apple has.

At the end of our debates, my best friend and me always remind each other that it's just a bloody phone, it's just a bloody tablet and it's just a bloody computer at the end of the day and llfe goes on. Yeah, that's true. But still, as discerning consumers, we have to be aware of the kind of company we are feeding with our hard-earned dough.

Remember when Apple screwed their users over when they took away Google Maps from iOS and the YouTube app from the iPad? Tantrums at the expense of the user experience of your customers, tsk. No love lost there on Apple's part when it seemed like such actions indicated there wasn't any love to begin with. We need to get real and face the fact that Apple doesn't like Google, since Apple is fighting a proxy cold war with Android when it comes to Google. Remember the Vietnam War during the Cold War era? Samsung is like Apple's Vietnam - while the bigger enemy is hidden behind the iCurtain. We all know how Nam turned out.

I haven't even started on how people are saying that the lockscreen of iOS 7 is looking like the lockscreen of Android as well as the uncomfortable way Apple's Notification system resembles Android's since.. I forgot, was it 2007? But I won't dive into these because these are things that benefit iUsers and we all need to progress.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with Apple going all Picasso by 'borrowing' ideas to improve their own platform per se, but if you sue your competitors and then make an about-face and do the very same thing you are accusing your competitors of doing, you won't be able to avoid discerning consumers from questioning if you are being hypocritical.

So much for going thermonuclear.

-De Lion Speaks